Is this merely a very foolish mistake or is it another spiteful spin with the intention to detriment the good name of Islamic agencies?
In an article, “Religious radicalism on the rise” published by The Star on November 23, 2007, Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi made another attack on JAKIM before focusing its attack on another Islamic agency, Institut Kajian Strategik Islam Malaysia (IKSIM).
To be fair, since the allegations were made based on “a booklet by the Malaysian Islamic Research Institute (IKSIM)”, I checked the said booklet to see what was written by IKSIM and I found the source of the chaos.
IKSIM’s words were wrongly translated from “Awas! Sekularisme, Liberalisme dan Pluralisme merupakan agenda penghakis akidah Islam dalam meruntuhkan kedaulatan Negara” to “secularism, liberalism and cultural diversity are elements that will undermine the Islamic agenda and destroy the country’s sovereignty”!
Armed with the wrong translation, Prof Shad who is also one of the contributors to the infamous book by G25, ‘Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation‘ attacked IKSIM.
It is like putting words in one’s mouth in order to attack the victim:
- “Cultural diversity” has not been mentioned in the book by IKSIM.
- The English translation of the Bahasa Melayu word “pluralisme” is pluralism.
- “Pluralisme” in the above sentence obviously means religious pluralism as clearly explained in a chart on page 7 of the book.
- In Bahasa Melayu, “cultural diversity” is ‘kepelbagaian kebudayaan’.
I guess Prof Shad has not have the chance to read the book because it is almost impossible for a learned man like him to not be able to understand the thin, simple book, except, unfortunately the person does not understand Bahasa Melayu well.
Having said that, I really pity Prof Shad for being shocked and at the same time slandering others only because of his own mistake, “I am shocked to read that “cultural diversity” is seen by IKSIM as a threat to Islam and to our nation”.
Prof Shad also questioned, “although Malaysians can embrace other religious faiths, the country is not duty-bound to protect other religions”, claiming that, “The belief that we have no duty to protect other religions is both un-Islamic and un-Malaysian”.
I sincerely hope that Prof Shad is not trying to challenge the Oath of office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who is the Supreme Head of the Federation!
In taking the Oath of office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as set out in Part I of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, his Majesty declares, “……We do solemnly and truly declare that We shall at all time protect the Religion of Islam … “.
Hence, by law the Prime Minister, the ministers, the lawmakers and the government servants are bounded by his Majesty’s oath to protect the Religion of Islam as they are being tasked with the duty of administering the country on behalf of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
In the Court of Appeal judgement of Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Kerajaan Malaysia & Menteri Dalam Negeri, where YA Dato’ Abdul Aziz Rahim stated:
“I would add however that the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation, to my mind imposes certain obligation on the power that be to promote and defend Islam as well to protect its sanctity. In one article written by Muhammad Imam, entitled Freedom of Religion under Federal Constitution of Malaysia – A Reappraisal  2 CLJ lvii (June) referred to by the learned counsel for the 8th appellant it was said that: “Article 3 is not a mere declaration. But it imposes positive obligation on the Federation to protect, defend, promote Islam and to give effect by appropriate state action, to the injunction of Islam and able to facilitate and encourage people to hold their life according to the Islamic injunction spiritual and daily life.”
However, even though “the country is not duty-bound to protect other religions” but Islam, Malaysia still guarantees “freedom of faith and conscience and cultural and legal autonomy to all religions and tribes” as long as it is not against the law of our country.
One of the main elements of a secular country is, the country is not duty-bound to protect any religion; so using the same argument, are we saying that secular countries do not guarantee “freedom of faith and conscience and cultural and legal autonomy to all religions and tribes”?
Next, Prof Shad said that the Islamic agency is challenging the supremacy of the Federal Constitution by saying that Islam has a higher position than the Federal Constitution itself.
The provision on Islam as the religion of the Federation was inserted in the Part 1 of the Constitution, that is in Article 3(1) which indicates the importance of the provision in the Constitutional structure; whereas the supremacy of the Federal Constitution is positioned after the provision on Islam, which is in Article 4.
Tan Sri Apandi Ali in the high profile case of Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Kerajaan Malaysia & Menteri Dalam Negeri stated that:
“The Article places the religion of Islam at par with the other basic structures of the Constitution, as it is the 3 rd in the order of precedence of the Articles that were within the confines of Part I of the Constitution”
In fact Article 3(4) which says that “nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution” has further accentuate the matter.
Prof Shad words, “According to it, religious enforcement authorities come under the patronage of the Sultans, not state governments. This is a remarkable vision of an autonomous, almost all-powerful, religious elite that is like a state within a state”, for me is uncalled for because it questions the rights of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam which is protected by the Article 181.
Section 3(1)(f) of the Sedition Act says, “A “seditious tendency” is a tendency to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution”.
It was also reported that the false allegations by Prof Shad had led IKSIM to lodge a police report against him, The Star and Sin Chew Daily; which was responded by G25’s Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin as reported in Free Malaysia Today (FMT) under the title, “G25 calls for action against Putrajaya-linked institute”.
The G25 member went further saying, “Iksim had singled out Amanah, G25, Sisters in Islam (SIS) and Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) as liberals”.
She said, “If they (Iksim) can lodge a police report against Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, similarly I am in a very good position to make a police report against them and sue them for defamation”.
This is the part where it gets very hilarious; G25, in another article, “G25: The word “liberal” has place of pride in Rukun Negara” argues that liberal is something positive so why is the fuss over the word now?
“Note that the word “liberal” is used in both versions in the context of something positive and beneficial to our ambitions to become a united, happy and prosperous country.” – G25 (FMT)
In her speech, “Malaysia as a Secular State”, The Malaysian Insight (TMI) reported G25’s Noor Farida as saying that Malaysia is neither a theocracy states nor secular state!
But I have to highlight that G25 also claimed that Malaysia is a secular state and at other time a secular democratic state!
It is very hard either to try to make sense of what they are trying to say or to take G25’s words seriously when its members keep on changing their minds and seems very confused, for example on their perception regarding the ideology of Malaysia.
To top it all, in its eagerness, FMT made a grave mistake in its reporting:
- Iksim was established on Dec 9, 2014 after consent from the Conference of Rulers, with the objective of upholding Islam as the country’s official religion.
- According to its official website, Iksim was established to fulfil the wishes of the country’s Muslim community to defend the Malay Rulers and uphold Islam as the official religion of the federation.
IKSIM clearly states that Islam is the religion of the Federation hence not only FMT’s wrong reporting defames IKSIM, but also the Constitution itself since the addition of the word “official” undermines the position of Islam as the religion of the Federation.
Taking G25’s Noor Farida Ariffin’s advice, IKSIM should “lodge a police report or even take legal action” against FMT for defaming both IKSIM and Article 3(1) of the Constitution.
Rather than confusing others, G25’s Datuk Noor Farida should walk the talk by making a police report against IKSIM to settle the matter once and for all and to prove that she and her friends from G25 are not the ones who are really confused not only about the truth but also in making their own opinions and views.
Please be reminded that, causing disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or prejudicing on grounds of religion” is an offence under Section 298 of the Penal Code.